Few hobbies rely more heavily on memory than acting, so when Gerson began to experience increasing difficulty with memorizing lines for his community theater productions, he had to give up this beloved activity. But that has not stopped him from finding ways to continue his engagement with the dramatic arts. Now, he serves as a prompter during rehearsals for multiple theaters and takes a play reading course at Temple University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where he is also enrolled in a chair yoga class.
A psychology researcher who specialized in driver behavior, Gerson firmly believes in the importance of participating in research studies. “It has always been my feeling that anything I can do to advance knowledge, I would be happy to do,” he says. Aside from being a lifelong learner, Gerson enjoys the simple pleasures of everyday routines with his wife of 56 years. Each day at 4 p.m., the couple sits down for wine and cheese in their living room, a tradition of many years. “It’s a relaxing time; something that we look forward to,” says his wife, Estelle. “It’s very much a part of our day.”
Gerson’s reliance on his wife has increased as his short-term memory became increasingly affected by his MCI. “What's available to me for my memory is Estelle,” he says. “She accompanies me wherever I go, and handles the details more so than [I] can ever do, and I'm really dependent upon her to do that.” Adjusting to the role of caretaker has been a source of stress for Estelle, who is now responsible for everything from paying bills to organizing medication. “When she reminds me of something that I don't want to be reminded of, and I think I should know myself, it's difficult for me,” Gerson says, “and it's difficult for her.”